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Ruaidhri Donnelly can get even better, warns Glentoran assistant Paul Millar

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In form: Ruaidhri Donnelly has been on the goal trail recently

In form: Ruaidhri Donnelly has been on the goal trail recently

In form: Ruaidhri Donnelly has been on the goal trail recently

Assistant boss Paul Millar believes Glentoran fans are now seeing the best of striker Ruaidhri Donnelly.

The 29-year-old once again proved his worth to Mick McDermott’s team by grabbing the winning goal against his former club Cliftonville in Saturday’s Sadler’s Peaky Blinder Irish Cup second round tie.

He may have struggled since moving across town to east Belfast in January, 2020, but has now formed a lethal partnership with his brother Jay and Robbie McDaid as the Glens prepare for an end of season trophy push, which continues with tonight’s quarter-final with Crusaders at The Oval. 

“Ruaidhri is playing really well at the minute,” purred Millar. “But we knew what we were getting when he joined us. His goal against the Reds was a brilliant finish  it was straight off the training ground.

“It was a great delivery from Dale (Gorman) and Ruaidhri got up brilliantly to head it home. That’s what he’s all about.

“He’s now producing the form we knew he was capable of when we signed him and I think he’ll even get better.”

Millar is expecting another tough, tight affair against Stephen Baxter’s erratic Crusaders.

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“It was great to get a home tie, first and foremost, but it will be tough,” he said. “We played them here before and beat them, but it was tight. It has been a tough schedule. Credit to the boys and their fitness levels.

“I thought we were the better team at the weekend. Cliftonville maybe put us under a little bit of pressure late on, but they had to because they were a goal down.

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Cup challenge: Paul Millar says Glentoran are hungry to retain their trophy

Cup challenge: Paul Millar says Glentoran are hungry to retain their trophy

©INPHO/Lorcan Doherty

Cup challenge: Paul Millar says Glentoran are hungry to retain their trophy

“There were few clear-cut chances, but they are a decent side and we knew they would be difficult to break down.

"I was just pleased to get a result and thrilled to be in the last eight.

“The Irish Cup is a special competition for Glentoran — it also guarantees European football, but we want to win a trophy for the fans.

“We have lost only two games since the turn of the year. In fact, over our last seven matches, we’ve played Coleraine three times, Cliftonville twice, Linfield and Larne — every one was a cup final.

“We have used the squad wisely. We had our skipper Marcus Kane missing at the weekend along with Robbie McDaid, who sustained an injury against Coleraine.

“I thought Paddy McClean was brilliant at left-back and Rhys Marshall has been outstanding since he joined up in the January transfer window.

“When Ciaran O’Connor came on, he did his job and could actually have scored twice.

“It is difficult for the players playing Saturday-Tuesday for such a long period of time — and, at this moment in time, we still don’t know when we’ll finish.

“What pleased me at the weekend was the fact that we were really composed. Our game management was spot on.

“The trophy is still upstairs, we win the next game, we are in the semi-final again.

"Win three games and the trophy stays with us, but we must do it the hard way — I’m sure Crusaders will be saying the same thing.”

◊ TONIGHT’S match will be streamed live by BBC SportNI with coverage, starting at 7.30pm, available on their website and iPlayer.


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